Friday, 1 March 2013

07:39 – Barbara arrived home about 2200 last night, after a long day, visiting her mom in the hospital, and then having dinner with her dad and sister. She says her mom is doing better, although from her description it sounds as though Sankie is still acting paranoid and delusional. Barbara is hoping she’ll be well enough to come home next week. I hope that’s true, because it’ll allow her and Frances to stop alternating nights staying with their dad.

According to the morning paper, there’s a revolt brewing about the new property tax values that have recently been mailed to homeowners, but not in the usual sense. The county reassesses tax values every four years, and every time in living memory until this time, those values have gone up. This time, a lot them went down, some by high percentages. The paper mentioned two in particular, one woman whose new assessment on her home was for only 50% of the 2009 tax value, and a second whose new assessment was for only 30% of the 2009 tax value. Both of these homes are located in East Winston, which is the poorest area of Winston-Salem and predominantly black. And many other homes, in East Winston particularly, have also had dramatic reductions in their tax values. Some spokesmen for the black community are publicly accusing the county of conspiring to destroy the black community, saying that their equity is being “stolen” from them. The reality, of course, is that these new valuations probably overstate the actual value of the homes, if anything. Assessed tax values do not determine either the selling price of homes or the loan value for those seeking to refinance. Even if the county tax assessor had left those values at their 2009 levels, those homes wouldn’t sell for any more than they do now, nor would banks be willing to lend money using those homes as collateral. So, in essence, these people are actually demanding that they be charged higher property taxes. Geez.


11:07 – This is pretty cool. We just made the OEDb’s list of the 100 All-Time Greatest Popular Science Books. Our chemistry book is at #51 (although the books aren’t ranked) alongside titles like Cosmos, A Brief History of Time, The Origin of the Species, Gray’s Anatomy, The Elegant Universe, and many other really great science books. We preen.


15:31 – If I ever wondered why biological stains are called “stains” rather than “dyes”, I’ve just had it brought home to me in spades. I’ve been filling 60 sets of stains bottles for biology kits, and the last two I’ve filled–Hucker’s crystal violet and Sudan III–are the stainiest stains I work with. I’m used to them staining polypropylene beakers and glassware, sometimes indelibly for all practical purposes. No solvent I’ve tried will remove some stains from plasticware and even abrasive cleanser has difficulty removing some stains from glassware. But today I was using my bottle-top dispenser, the parts of which that are in contact with the liquids being dispensed are made of Teflon. Teflon, the very definition of “nothing sticks to it”. But these stains do. It’s really no big deal. The staining is cosmetic only, and by definition it’s not going to leech out to a different solution, at least in concentrations that are detectable even instrumentally.

But just wait until Barbara gets home. I’ve been doing cleanup in her kitchen sink. It’s “stainless steel”, but (you guessed it…) it’s now stained in pretty hues of violet, red, and orange. Fortunately, I know from experience that those stains can be removed, eventually, with a lot of abrasive cleanser and elbow grease. I’m not going to bother cleaning the sink today because I still have some work to do that would just stain it again. But I will clean the sink thoroughly tomorrow.